[Air-l] Re: Air-l digest, Vol 1 #242 - 8 msgs

Andrew Perrin andrew_perrin at unc.edu
Mon Dec 17 09:33:04 PST 2001


Culture, too, is a hotly-debated question. Older sociological takes tended
to see it as below: a pattern of beliefs, or (in Parsonian
terms) "values".  In the past 20 years or so, sociologists of culture have
moved away from this, partially for theoretical reasons but (IMHO) more
because it proved impossible to actually locate these hypothesized shared
values. (Every once in a while, we try to make theory conform to empirical
observation instead of vice versa :).)  More recent sociology of culture
(Bourdieu, Swidler, Boltanski & Thevenot, Sewell, etc.) has tended to see
culture(s) as overlapping, strategic, and discursive. That is, rather than
providing shared values they provide resources for interpreting and
approaching problems; they provide different such resources and in
different ways to different sub-cultures; and these resources are
(often) encapsulated in forms of discourse (talk, media, writing, etc.).

I suppose one could argue that communities are those things that have
cultures, which might address the fact that the study of both is so
muddled right now.

ap

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Andrew J Perrin - andrew_perrin at unc.edu - http://www.unc.edu/~aperrin
 Assistant Professor of Sociology, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
      269 Hamilton Hall, CB#3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210 USA


> This may be a silly question, but I've been wondering what the difference 
> between community and culture might be.  Culture, particularly organizational 
> culture, can be defined as a shared pattern of beliefs (see Schein 1985 and 
> others).  It seems to me that community, at least from what I've seen here, is 
> similarly defined?
> 
> --JW
> 
> Andrew Perrin wrote:
> 
> > Hmmm - well, the concept of 'community' certainly is a very hot one, and
> > one for which no widely-accepted definition
> > exists. "Communitarians" (e.g., Amitai Etzioni and others, probably
> > including Robert Putnam) would probably exclude companies from their idea
> > of "community," but it's never clear exactly why; they seem to see
> > community as being a sort of nostalgic, small-town thing. There are of
> > course lots of other uses of the word: "community" as physical social
> > space (as in "Welcome to the community of Chapel Hill"), "community" as
> > social-but-not-physical space (online communities), "community" as
> > identity-based interaction (the Catholic community, the African-American
> > community), and "community" as an opt-in, opt-out sort of group (as in
> > administrators' references to "the college community" or "utopian
> > communities").
> > 
> > All of these do seem to belong to the "third sector" (non-market,
> > non-state), and that does suggest that there's something about community
> > that separates it from companies. But then you have to wonder whether
> > company towns (e.g., Levittown) can't really be "communities."
> > 
> > All of this, I suppose, is just to suggest that your student probably
> > won't find many pat answers in the research on "community".
> > 
> > ap
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Andrew J Perrin - andrew_perrin at unc.edu - http://www.unc.edu/~aperrin
> >  Assistant Professor of Sociology, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
> >       269 Hamilton Hall, CB#3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210 USA
> > 
> > 
> > 
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